Projectplace facilitates European cooperation

One project; 13 countries; 40 people. On behalf of the European Commission, the Working Life Forum is chairing Gender-CoP, which is coordinated by project manager Bengt Nilsson. His tool: Projectplace.

The European Community of Practice on Gender Mainstreaming (Gender-CoP) is known as a "learning network". The goal is to standardise the promotion of gender equality within the European Social Fund (ESF). Sweden, chairing Gender-CoP, is responsible for coordinating some 40 people in 13 countries. Its members are mainly from the ministries of each member country that are responsible for determining the use of ESF resources.

"With so many countries involved, it's difficult to organise meetings in person," claims Bengt Nilsson, Project Manager for Gender-CoP at Working Life Forum.

Better than proprietary systems

According to Nilsson: "Projectplace provides a good foundation. The main feature we were looking for was to have everything in one place. For users, this is an advantage. We never send attachments with communication; we always link to Projectplace."

Clear overview for the project manager

With Sweden chairing Gender-CoP, Nilsson views Projectplace, the online, project-collaboration tool, from a project-management perspective. He stresses the importance of being able to track all information that is sent out.

"We can, for example, see who has read which document. We can see if people really know what's going on. It's not about being a watchdog, but rather, about keeping better track of how materials are used and what is being disseminated," says Nilsson. "This is something you cannot know if you send out information by e-mail."

"Projectplace is easy to learn. In our group, people have varying degrees of familiarity with this type of tool. Therefore, it makes sense that users feel at home with the tool," continues Nilsson. "It's similar to social media; a bit like Facebook. You recognise features, such as 'like' and 'comment'."As project manager, Nilsson claims that Support Services from Projectplace have been a great help, with questions and problems referred to Support Services, available 24/7.

"We don't have to manage support from the project-management side and that's a great advantage. Projectplace is very helpful. Even with problems sometimes outside the scope of Projectplace, Support Services is still able to help us," says Nilsson.

Appreciated by users

"To introduce a new way of working on a project can be a bit difficult. However, not long after we introduced Projectplace, many claimed that Projectplace was something they could no longer do without," says Nilsson. According to him, one project participant even stated: "From being the greatest enemy, I'm now the chief proponent."

Fewer trips save money

Nilsson says it's difficult to calculate exactly how much they've benefited from using Projectplace. "It was obvious that we'd save money, but this was budgeted at the outset of the project. To benefit was a prerequisite; we signed on to Projectplace in order to reduce travel time and expenses, as well as be able to work at home, outside meeting times," concludes Nilsson.

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